no spam, unsubscribe anytime.
On a recent weekend, I attended my brother-in-law's wedding in Fort Walton Beach, FL. The ceremonies took place on Hulburt Air Force Base near there. The wedding was in the base chapel, and most of those in attendance were active duty and retired military, along with many, like my brother-in-law, who were former military now working in various Government Service jobs.
My wife and I, as well as many of the other attendees, were put up in a lovely hotel on the base called the Commando Inn, which is owned and operated by Hurlburt Air Force Base for visiting active duty military and their guests.
Hurlburt Field has an impressive history. It is one of two U.S. Air Force, active duty, Special Operations Wings. It falls under the jurisdiction of the Air Force Special Operations Command. The First Special Operations Wing is the modern successor of the 16th Pursuit Group, one of the original air groups formed by the Army before WWII. Its mission focus is unconventional warfare: counter-terrorism, combat search and rescue, personnel recovery, psychological operations, aviation assistance to developing nations, "deep battlefield" resupply, interdiction and close air support. You can see its mission is quite broad and all-encompassing.
The motto of the First Special Operations Wing is: "Keeping the Air Commando promise to provide reliable, precise Air Force Special Operations air power... Any Time, Any Place."
Most impressive to me was the genuine welcome we experienced, and the hospitality of both the base chapel and of the hotel personnel. Everyone on base looked you in the eye and offered a greeting of one kind or another. The chapel employees organized the rehearsal with a kind of joyful enthusiasm, and made the wedding party feel both welcomed and comfortable.
The chapel is, by necessity, an interfaith, ecumenical space. In the pews, song texts and liturgical books for several denominations and faiths were available. The altar area could be set up for any liturgical needs through the use of architectural niches and sliding panels, etc. It is, obviously, a well-used and well-loved place.
The hotel was modern, well appointed, and well serviced by the hotel staff. It was located on a nice piece of land on the shores of the Gulf, and provided wi-fi and all of the usual amenities, as well as an onsite Starbucks - a welcome presence for this Washingtonian.
More important was the sense of culture that I witnessed while on Hurlburt Field Air Force Base. The young guards at the gates were serious about their duties, but welcoming as well. There was an obvious collegiality based on the mutual, shared experience of military service and the fact that most of these airmen had served, or will serve, in the Iraq or Afghanistan war zones. I think that this hospitality and welcome is rooted in the fact that these airmen and their families are involved in causes larger than themselves, and that they are in it together. They understand what they have all been involved with and that they have done it as a team. It is a close-knit life.
My wife and I enjoyed a great weekend at Hurlburt, celebrating a wedding and experiencing the generosity and hospitality of a vibrant community. Hurlburt Field Air Base was a great place for a new marriage to begin.